NEW YORK: Shandwick has traded one hi-tech giant for another, ending its 17-year relationship with Compaq to take on Hewlett-Packard’s newly consolidated worldwide PC business.
NEW YORK: Shandwick has traded one hi-tech giant for another,
ending its 17-year relationship with Compaq to take on Hewlett-Packard’s
newly consolidated worldwide PC business.
Shandwick has been charged with all IR and PR duties for HP’s worldwide
Business PC Organization (BPCO), which includes every division producing
and marketing business desktop computers, notebooks and thin-client and
PC servers in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The
agreement takes effect November 1, giving Shandwick enough time ’to
clean everything with Compaq out of their system,’ said Andrea Bass, PR
manager for HP’s North America Computer Products Group.
On the surface, Shandwick’s decision to dump Compaq for rival HP might
seem puzzling, since most estimates put the former company’s annual
billings at somewhere near dollars 12 million (as opposed to the
estimated dollars 6 to dollars 10 million HP business). Industry
insiders, however, said the agency-client relationship had been
crumbling for at least three years when Compaq first reportedly started
flirting with other firms. Also, the computer giant has been beefing up
internal PR staff in recent months, perhaps a sign that agency projects
were being scaled down as part of cost-cutting initiatives introduced by
new CEO Michael Capellas.
The official company line at Compaq positions the split as amicable.
’Shandwick has given us outstanding service for the past 17 years, but
we are a new company now,’ said senior manager of worldwide media
relations Alan Hodel. He added that finding a replacement agency was not
a top priority.
Shandwick’s US CEO Michael Petruzzello said that the firm would not be
closing its Houston branch or laying off any staff, despite the fact
that Compaq had been by far its largest client there: ’We’re committed
to Texas and to serving the Southwest.’
As for HP, the move to Shandwick signals a company wide shift to a more
centralized marketing model. Until now, the business PC account had been
parceled out to a handful of different agencies, most prominently
Alexander Ogilvy and Copithorne & Bellows. BSMG Worldwide and Cunningham
Communications also handled some work.
Alexander Ogilvy EVP Holland Carney said her firm had already resigned
the NetServers part of HP’s business and bowed out of the worldwide PC
pitch because of a conflict of interest with parent company Ogilvy PR,
which handles IBM in Europe and Asia.
C&B, which participated in the pitch for the BPCO account, said the loss
isn’t a devastating one. ’We’re still HP’s corporate agency of record,’
said senior partner Steve Jursa, adding that C&B still has HP’s printer
and telecom business, as well as its Open View software group and
several divisions that are set to become part of spin-off company
Agilent on November 1.